Saturday, July 20, 2013

Ride 'Em, Cowboy..If You Can.

Cheyenne Arena Before Showtime
Cheyenne, Wyoming.  7/20/2013:    Day one of the 117th Cheyenne Rodeo.  To be brief, the Bulls and Horses won.  

   There is some least on my part..that the Bulls and Horses (capitalized to emphasize respect) had a meeting and decided to really stomp the cowboys.  And they did.  There were 30 bull rides and only one cowboy qualified for the next round.  Bulls 29, Cowboys 1.  

   The picture album which follows will, I think, illustrate all:


Who knew bulls could fly?

   ...or horses, for that matter?

   Let me pause in this pictorial review to point you to the people in the background.  Notice how they are either climbing or hiding behind fences.  These are prudent people, some are rodeo judges.  What's that tell you?

  Yup.  They fly.  Wonder if that was covered in the meeting?

   Back to this picture for a moment.  In spite of what you think, this man is demonstrating proper form.  Free hand is visible and not touching the horse.  His feet are forward of the horse's shoulders, toes pointing out.  He probably got good scores for that..until he came off.

So long, Suckah..

   Really, it was a great day.  Beautiful weather and they had a parade with, of course, lots of horses.  Just what you want on the 117th anniversary of the "Daddy of 'em all,"  the great Cheyenne Rodeo.  

   At the end, there were a lot of happy
but tired cowgirls and cowboys.  Including this one, for sure.


   Think I'll go hit the to speak.

   Ride 'em Cabboy...



Thursday, July 18, 2013

Cheyenne Rodeo Shopping..Big Time.

When in Cheyenne..

Cheyenne, Wyoming.  7/18/2013:     Two days till Rodeo starts.  Are you ready?  Do you look your best?  What do you think you need?  Well, Pard', here it is.

   This is The Wrangler, of which there is no whicher.  During other times of the year, it supplies ranch families with any of the necessities..hats, boots, jeans, shirts, blouses, sox..whatever.  At Rodeo time, it runs it up a few notches.  Dressy, fancy..pricey.  Whatever the Dudes from someplace else might like to buy while they're here on the spree, Wrangler's got.

  Boots?  Name your brand.

   High Steppers for the Ladies.  Notice the tall rise on those beauties..just made for riding or simply looking smart.


You say you need a new hat?


  There are plenty of  casual straws or hats you might wear to Rodeo or to town.  You can party in these hats or you can go to work.  The main thing is they keep the sun from boiling your brains and blistering your neck.  That's why they look like that, and if you don't have one out here, you're nuts.



   There are serious hats for the man who needs to look a bit dressier.  Most of these come close to 200 dollars and are quality fur fabric.

And then..

    Pricey hats.  How's $700 grab ya?

   As for me, I favor Stetsons..that is, Stetsons I bought years ago and still wear. I know I'm no fun..but good is good.  In fact, when it comes to Stetson, good is great.  I brought a nice, narrow-brimmed Stetson straw with me this year.  I bought it in Tucson some time ago and it still looks brand new.  So I'm fixed, thank you very much

  Oh.  Narrow-brimmed?  Yep.  Most of my hats are low-crowned and narrow brimmed because those big wide-brimmed jobs, however beautiful, make us short folks look like thumbtacks and/or mushrooms.  We do have our pride.


  Now if you're looking for tack like saddles, bridles, lariats and spurs, that's just down the street.   But you can get almost anything you want to wear at Wranglers.. long as it's Western.  

   I'm ready.  

   Saddle up, riders.


   Oh, boy.



Wednesday, July 17, 2013

We're Back In Kansas, Toto

 Morning in Kansas

Denver, CO.  7/17/2013:   Eastern Kansas.  The sky is brilliant and the horizon stretches to forever.   Vast prairies.  Groves making boundaries.  Cattle idling in quiet corners.  The world at peace.  Dorothy was right--there's no place like it.

  I started for Denver right after breakfast in Topeka and was almost immediatley side-tracked at Paxico.  There's a turnoff there that advertises a "Scenic" by-way.  I was ahead of schedule and the word "scenic" is all it took.

  The by-way is a gravel road which manufactures huge clouds of white dust in your wake as it weaves past neat farms, climbs hills and morphs onto Boothill Road.  That's where I found this old place..


  I have no idea how old it is, who owns it or how long it has been abandoned.  Maybe it was a school or a meeting house or both. The morning sun has probably warmed those old stones for more than a century. I don't know.  I just know I liked it.

   I liked it so much, here's a view that puts it in better context:


    This is Alma, Kansas..a charming little town I passed through on my way back to the Interstate.  The people were friendly and were going about the business of ranching at a pace that suggested they had been doing it for a very long time.

   They were patient with me when I asked directions back to the big road about three times before I finally got it right.  Actually, it was pretty simple..just go down the main street till it runs into route 99 and that'll take you right to I70.  Maybe I'm easily distracted, but I saw a lot of Alma before I found old 99.  

   On the right, that's one of the churches at Alma.  Well tended and ATTended, I'll bet.  

   I like little towns.  Apparently, I lot of other folks do, too.  There were at least three antique shops on the main street--always a sure sign of outside traffic.


  I made it to Denver late in the day..tired and hungry, but anxious to sit down at the computer and write about it.   I loved every stolen minute out there, riding down Boothill Road..

    Thanks for coming along.  

    See you next time.



  All photographs on these blogs copyright of Jim Slade.  2013.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

At last! I Get The Big Picture. all its glory..

Quality Inn, Topeka, Kansas.  7/16/2013:   You have to remember what the St. Louis Arch symbolizes.  It's the gateway..the portal..that stands where thousands of pilgrims arrived in this city to get what they hoped they would need and then..went west.  They came overland or down the Ohio to the Mississippi on riverboats which brought them to that wharf where the arch now stands.  Frontier guides helped them get ready and then took them on the journey.  Not all survived.  In essence, the arch stands where the west began.

  It is inspires awe and that sense of history.

  Which brings us to today.

  I have driven at breakneck speeds past that arch for many years.  Always in a hurry, having to be content with a shot Mary Alice took out the car window, never having the time to stop and do it real justice.  So, this time I decided that, with all the extra time I gathered on my long distance run yesterday, today I would seek out a spot to get a face-on shot.  I thought surely there'd be at least one place along the waterfront in East St. Louis where I could stand long enough to get it.  I was determined.  So I got off at the E. St. Louis exit and wound through side streets, angling toward the river with every turn.  Then I spied a sign for the "Casino Queen."  Thinking it would be a riverboat and that riverboats need a dock--I reasoned this might be the place, so I followed the signs.  Actually, it's a full-sized Casino, but what the heck--it's right next to the park.  

  If I had been smart enough to look it up on the internet, I would have known ahead of time that, some years ago, the St. Louis Gateway Center Commission reserved land in what is normally an industrial district to build a park with a view..and what a view:

    The structure on the left is the Mississippi River Overlook..part of the Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park.  The late Mr. Martin was a mover and shaker in St. Louis who had much to do with the park at the arch and the one you're looking at in that picture.  The commission put an initial 15-million dollars into it and I'm told it is THE place to be for the Arch's Fourth of July fireworks.  I took this shot from the top of an amphitheater with tiered seating.

  I was the only person around when I got there just after 9AM, local time.  I took three cameras and walked up that ramp to the very top.

 Coming around the last turn, I was startled to see someone sitting on a bench, and started to say something to assure him I was there for the same reason he was.  It was only when I got close that I realized I was talking to a bronze statue.  It's Mr. Martin, with the "best seat in the house," watching his beloved St. Louis and its lovely arch.

  Saying no more, I did clear away some ambitious spiders who were spinning a web under his chin before I got down to some business of my own.

  Old newsmen keep their habits.  Don't rest your luck on just one picture--take a bunch so you're protected and will have a selection, too.  With digital cameras, that's not hard to I probably walked away with about thirty good samples of a picture I've wanted to take for years.

  Thank you, Mr. Martin.  It's really grand.

  In case you want to go and do likewise, don't do what I did.  You can get to the park from the Illinois side of the river by going west along I-70 to Exit 2A (on the left).  Exit onto 3rd Street.  Go .3 miles on N 3rd, turn right at West Broadway/Riverpark Drive..go another .3 miles and take a left on South Front Street.  Go .5 miles and turn left onto West Trendley Avenue.  Park.  Enjoy.

  I'm in Topeka, KS tonight after what always seems like the longest part of this trip--the run between St. Louis to Kansas City.  It's only 225 miles, but it just always seems longer.  I compounded the misery by making a wrong turn and ended up circling through Kansas City to get back on I-70 the process, learning more about Kansas City than I ever planned.

  Oh, well.

  Tomorrow, it's off toward Denver.

  I'll let you know how that turns out.




Monday, July 15, 2013

Old Men Go West, Too..

Hitting The Road Early In The Morning

Marriott Fairfield Inn. Effingham, Illinois.  Evening, 7/15/2013:  Willie Nelson and I would get along just fine..neither of us could ever wait to get on the road again.  

   I set out early this morning..headed to Cheyenne, Wyoming for the big rodeo that Mary Alice and I loved so much.  Then, I'm going to Estes, Colorado for a day at Rocky Mountain National Park (being nobody's fool, I've got my Senior pass) for some serious photo-grabbing, and then on to Steamboat Springs for a visit with our old friends, Larry and Jackie.  I may get back to Morgantown, WV by the first of August..and I may not.  I HAVE to be back for Grandson Mike's wedding to the lovely Kate McGraw on the there are SOME limits.

  Counting West Virginia, I made five states today.  



Crossing the mighty Ohio River to get there, of course..

  Past Columbus and Dayton into Hoosier Country..

  And into the middle of Illinois.  Sorry, I didn't get a shot of the Illinois sign.  But you know what it looks like, more or less.

  Tomorrow, I get back on "The Main Street of America," Interstate 70, to hop past St. Louis and into Kansas.  If I keep running at this speed I may get to Cheyenne early--but that's OK.  There is a lot of shopping there, great food and plenty of pictures to take.  And if that's not sufficient, Denver's just down the road.  

  What's that old saying about happy, wallowing pigs?  

  i'll talk to you tomorrow.